The devil is in the details. Beware of extra charges tacked on to your accommodation fees

As we get older, we need more assistance with day-to-day activities. Climbing stairs becomes increasingly difficult, housekeeping gets harder and individuals become more prone to falls and injury. These difficulties increase over time.

When seniors enter a supportive living facility, they are assessed for what kinds of help they might need and their monthly fees are based on that assessment. Sometimes, the assessments underestimate the amount of help a new resident needs. But as time goes by, all residents’ needs increase, requiring more assistance and time from facility staff.

Many operators begin adding extra fees as the services the resident needs increase. Each operator will set their own structures and rates for these services. It’s important to understand how your care provider will charge them and under what circumstances they’re provided. 

Here is an example of some of the extra fees charged by one Alberta operator. 

  • Emergency pendant: $40 per month
  • Extra charge for activating pendant when it’s not an emergency:  $10 each time
  • Delivering meals to rooms: $3 per meal
  • Portering (help getting to and from the dining room): $5 per round trip or $245 per month
  • Resident safety check: $5 per check
  • Companion care: $21 per hour
  • Extra fee for having a pet in suite (assistance in caring for animal not included) : $25 per month
  • Laundry: $12 per load
  • Changing bedsheets: $12 per change
  • Basic housekeeping: $26 - $46 per visit, depending on suite size
  • Spring cleaning: $35 per hour

Meal packages

  • Breakfast: $135 per month*
  • Lunch: $202.50 per month*
  • Dinner: $262.50 per month*
  • *daily specials only - no substitutions
  • Diner card: a punch card for 24 meals per month 
  • Breakfast: $105 per month*
  • Lunch: $155 per month*
  • Dinner: $200 per month*
  • *no carrying over unused meals to the next month

Make sure you are aware of all notice  and exemption periods. Operators may require a notice period before cancelling any services, so you may end up being charged for something you no longer needed or didn’t receive.

Ask about the rules for extended absences, such as hospital stays or vacations. Some will charge your for daily services, whether you’re there to receive them or not.